for the Days Ahead
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Today is an anniversary of sorts: it is 3 years ago to about this very moment when I began the process of exiting that awful and woeful place. Three years ago, right @ this very moment, I found myself:
· Saying goodbyes to the kind men that were to soon be left behind
· Giving away the last of my personal items to those in deepest of need
· Hugging and sharing both this moment of celebration for me and condolences for those not yet ready to gain access to the freedom tarmac
· Walking up that paved incline happily for the final time and this time, turning and heading towards the outside of the orientation and processing center
· Sitting patiently and waiting for the prison official to give me the time of day
· Exchanging my clothes and getting my own clothes back—and then putting them on
· Waiting for my get-away vehicle
· Climbing into that cold van and making small talk with the inmate driver
· Winding down that serpentine road and heading to the exit
· Waiting patiently for the cab to arrive that would whisk me away to freedom
· Getting into that cab and nearly breaking in two
· Closing my eyes and asking the cabbie to speed away @ light-speed
· Asking him to not judge me, closing my eyes and asking him to let me know when the misery was no longer visible in his rearview mirror (he told me that others asked the same thing many times over)
· Opening my eyes and seeing the brightness of the morning sun and the fresh vistas of mountains that rose like earthen diamonds on the horizon. Earthen diamonds that represented scalable freedoms yet to be discovered and conquered
· Drop off at the airport and clinging to my little ditty-bag and wondering if I looked suspicious
· Purchasing with my prison-issued debit card my first tastes of freedom-laced foods
· Boarding the plane and heading to my home…wondering what this might look like and if it would welcome or repel me
· Taking off and vowing never—ever to head that way again
· Landing @ LAX and watching in wonder as the people milled about in such ease and with such unfiltered awareness of their luck and fortune to be so free
· Boarding the small commuter plane that would take me back to my home
· Watching out the window as we passed by Anytown, USA and seeing where my house sat and marveling that once again I was ‘home’
· Greeting my wife and realizing this was going to take a while to heal the wound that I created
· The Drop Off @ The Half-Way House: that was tough and the 30 + days there were not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination
· Coming Home: that day I exited incarceration and found my way back to my house
· Chico and My Homecoming: opening the door and there to greet me: Chico!
· In the Middle of The Floor: there I sat, in the middle of the floor sobbing and hugging Chico
More…so much more. But that is pretty darned close. Wow! Three full turns of the calendar and I am still nowhere near to that province I thought would easily reappear: ‘recovered’. I mean nowhere near.
Struggles and Challenges Abound:
The struggles and challenges abound. There are plenty of days when I feel overwhelmed and ostracized. But I would NEVER, as in EVER want to head back to that literal bondage.
The smell, taste and deep-pleasures of freedom way supersede and repress the powers of that awful and woeful place.
Freedom = home + courage + capabilities to try again + tiny victories + 10-S! + Family and time with my wife and kids and grandson + friendships rekindled + opportunities to speak and teach and write and broadcast + leadership leanings + this general sense of well-being.
I am home. I never take this lightly. I never approach this, or my relationships, or my sobriety or my intellect with a casual callousness. I am Uber aware that life can snatch these bounties and blessings and special moments from us, ‘in the twinkling of an eye’.
Like the speed of flight from which a bat exits the deep chasms of hell, life can turn on you. And the fact that I get a 2nd and 3rd and 4th chance = pure and lasting amazing grace.